Donegal is a photographer’s paradise. Landscape, seascape, mountains and ancient monuments, coupled with the softness of the Irish light the vistas are always changing with time of day and season. Donegal is Ireland in microcosm - it has it all. Our knowledge of Donegal enables us to go to the best cobble beaches, wreck sites, ancient ruins, castles, waterfalls, mountains, rivers and lakes. The locations have been selected for their photographic promise.
Donegal has two ranges of low mountains; the Derryveagh Mountains in the north and the Bluestack Mountains in the south, with Mount Errigal at 749 metres (2,457 ft) the highest peak. It has a deeply indented coastline forming natural sea loughs interspersed with beautiful headlands and peninsulas. Dunfanaghy, where the photo tour is based, is nestled in Sheephaven bay, just south of the dramatic Horn Head. The climate is temperate and dominated by the Gulf Stream, with warm, moist summers and mild wet winters.
Donegal has an ancient history with remnants of neolithic culture as well as vestiges from more recent times in the form of castles and old estates. It is a place where people have interacted with the ancient landscapes for millennia and it is this fusion which creates unique photographic opportunities.
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Morning - Welcome, outline and aims of the tour and an opportunity to introduce each other and ask any pertinent questions.
Afternoon - A short drive from Dunfanaghy we will walk through a local Donegal farm on our way to some of Horn Head’s sea cliffs. The view on arrival is spectacular with views over exposed sea cliffs and an impressive sea arch eroded by abrasion from Atlantic swell waves. If the light is right this is a majestic location.
Morning - if the weather permits sunrise over Rosguile peninsula from Ards forest park which has older and new growth forest, lakes and a series of beautiful beaches with views towards the East. The beaches and best viewpoints are about 20-30 minutes walk from the carpark. OR - we may go to Lackagh bridge, a beautiful old stone bridge on the Owencarrow river and in close proximity to Doe castle. This tower castle sits on the waters edge and on calm days with a high tide can be seen reflected in the lough. It was here that Owen Roe O’Neill returned in 1642 to lead the Irish Confederate Army during the Wars of the three kingdoms.
Afternoon - We drive East to the Rosquile peninsula which is also known as the Atlantic drive. Here we go to a small but spectacular west facing beach, Boyeeghter bay, which takes the onslaught of the prevailing westerly swells. Here the discordant rock form disrupts and creates large waves as they are channeled into the beach. A perfect place for sunset and long exposure photography. If the weather permits and the skies are clear, we may get to shoot a few stars.
Morning and afternoon - sunrise is always a possibility! This morning we will drive west to the Poisoned glen, Dunlewy and the Old Church of the valley nestled at the foot of Errigal (Donegal’s highest mountain). From here we will visit an ancient bridge over the local river, cross lake Nacung in hope of reflections of Errigal. After this we go further west to the old boat wreck of Cara na Mara at Derrybeg and the storm and cobble beaches of the Bloody foreland. These beaches are created by a war of attrition as huge boulders are rounded by the abrasion and force of wave action from the west. From here you are looking towards the USA - there is nothing in between!
Later afternoon/early evening - post editing and the use of Adobe Lightroom.
Morning - Options - to be decided the day/evening before. The area affords many opportunities for the photographer, hence we will make a few suggestions that you might like to do as a group. Beach, ruins, castle, forest, rivers, churches, local portraiture.
Afternoon - Q&A, discussion, post production and your images for appraisal!
We drive west to Dungloe and the Breeches arch, Crohy Head, near Dungloe. A spectacular sea arch which faces the full force of the Atlantic swell waves and, when conditions are right, catches the light of the setting sun. The coastline here is cliffed and indented and the walk down to the beach is fairly steep (walking boots are useful). If we have time we can drive further south along this small west Donegal road and take in the seascapes and landscapes which are quintessentially Donegal!
Thursday - an early start to catch the sunrise over Fanad lighthouse - arguably Ireland’s most impressive and iconic. The setting is dramatic with the sea below and the impressive inlet of Lough Swilly and Inishowen peninsula as a backdrop. From here we can visit the Great Pollet sea arch at the entrance to Lough Swilly. Further south from the sea arch and lighthouse is the magnificent Ballymastocker strand and the old Georgian port of Ramelton OR a visit to the wreck of the Sabrina in Mulroy bay. These may be switched around depending on light and weather and the possibilities for sunrise and/or sunset.
Friday - The lakes and mountains of Donegal including Lough Salt and the small village of Glen and a visit to Glenveigh castle. The castle is set on the shores of Lough Veigh and as a site it is impressive. A tour of the castle interior and gardens is a possible option.
All photography on this page by Trevor Cole
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To reserve your spot on the workshop, a deposit of EUR 500 is required. The balance payment is due Jul 1st 2015 (you will receive a separate invoice for that). Registrations after that date will receive an invoice over the full price.
Repeat Client: attended a previous tour or workshop with Chris Marquardt? We'll knock 100 EUR off your total.
Early Bird: book by May 3rd 2015 and you'll save EUR 100.
Complete Tour: EUR 100 off if you book the full seven days (main workshop + extension 1 + extension 2).
(Discounts cannot be combined)
You will organise your own travel to Dunfanaghy, which is where our tour and workshop basecamp will be located.
We suggest one of these hotels:
If you call from the US, please dial 011353 instead of +353
Want to bring the non-photographer in your life? There are plenty of alternative activities: horseback riding, biking, galleries, coffee shops, castle tours, local hotels offer walking tours around ancient monuments, climbs, beach, golf (home of Paul McGinley of Ryder cup fame) and coastal walks.
If you're interested, we'll be happy to help you organise.
September is often Ireland’s driest month but rain is always a possibility. Temperatures of 15-20 Celsius are the norm but always expect the unexpected. Sometimes it is the westerly low pressure systems which move in from the west that bring the sunshine and showers which characterise Irish weather creating the variations in light that excite the photographer.
The light is Ireland, due to its latitude, is always low and this is to the photographers advantage. Low light creates contrasts and shadows and at this time of year the golden hours are long with soft warm hues which bring out the greens of Ireland and reflect beautifully on water surfaces and rocks.
Author: Chris Marquardt